Archive for ‘Travel’

February 23, 2012

Water and Sun

September 28, 2011

Mabon in India: Adaptation

This Mabon, I drank apple juice, seated on the cushions in a rooftop cafe next to the Ganges in India.

Being immersed in a radically different climate reminds me that earth religions must be adaptable. Not only is modern Paganism widespread in the United States, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand due to cultural similarities and a common language, its symbolism and mythology is grounded in the four seasons. Naturally, considering that a large percentage of its practitioners can trace the evolution back to Great Britain. What does it become, then, in other climates?

If you don’t have forests, can you have a Green Man? Does our symbolism fail? And what, exactly, are we without four seasons?

My feet slipped softly into the sand as I made my way down to the Ganges. A couple of cows lounged on the beach, enjoying the sun and quiet, I suppose. Leaving the holy men in their orange robes and painted faces behind, I climbed over and around boulders, finally settling on one that rested at the water’s edge. Balancing cross-legged on the rounded surface, I gazed at the eddies swirling and disappearing in the sacred waters rolling by.

Letting my consciousness slip into the stone, I felt the heaviness tempered by the water’s movement. Permanence experiencing change in a slow etching of a trillion tiny droplets moving together. As many have said before, rivers are never the same. They, in a sense, are “water when it moves through this particular space at a generally large volume” — not quite the water itself, not quite the space. And this river is the spiritual artery of a nation.

Although the apple juice was lovely, trying to celebrate Mabon as if I was not in India denies the point of the holidays; which are for grounding yourself in the season, the cycles of the year. Shifts here are less subtle, and my spirituality flows into another expression, a different form of grounding. Because it has to, and I think that is healthy. Perhaps traditions like Wicca may not so easily translate to other areas of the world, but the core ideas — earth connection, world-immersion, and nature grounding — can find expression everywhere.

August 21, 2011

Manifesting the Maiden

The Maiden manifestation of the Goddess is the reason that I am half-soaked, sitting in a café with Tibetan monks up in the mountains of India.

She is also the reason there has been such a gap in posts.

About ten days ago, I boarded the largest plane I have ever seen in my life and flew thousands of miles to New Delhi, beginning a physical journey across India, Thailand, and New Zealand. Alone, I navigated the chaos and disrepair of the capital city, and, after a perfunctory visit to the Taj Mahal, made my way up into the Himalayas, to McLeodganj, home away from home of the Dalai Lama. This is a journey of education through direct contact; and a pilgrimage that will take me throughout the subcontinent, to many expressions of the Goddess.

The Maiden, in many forms, embodies personal strength and adventure. She is the huntress Diana, the expression of life, Persephone. Understanding the symbolism of such goddesses reveals the moments in our lives when we risk our comfort, open ourselves to mistakes, and step out into the world. Peeling away our known world, whether that means opening ourselves to new relationships, a challenging new job, or deeper spiritual development, we can experience sides of ourselves that were previously hidden. Although I am of classical Maiden age, restricting interpretation to the numbers we collect as we move through our lives limits the potential that the Maiden can offer. We can move through the forms of Maiden, Mother, or Crone until we die; they are paths to understanding and engagement.

Perhaps I took an extreme route to comprehending the Maiden and all she represents. I’ve given away half of my things, stored the rest of them at my father’s house, and peeled away my responsibilities – communally as well as lifestyle-wise. I have launched myself into a physical unknown, chaotic India, so that I may better examine what it means to be human, a woman, a being. I am not completely alone, I have made new friends and made connections, but the Maiden is not necessarily isolated — it is that responsibilities and decisions are limited to yourself.

For me, this Maiden journey cannot last forever. It is a time for training, spiritually and intellectually, so that when I embody the Mother and the Crone, I will be prepared.

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